Experience Information

Employer: Legal Assistance Center
Job Title: Volunteer
Major: Political Science
Received Credit: Yes
Paid: No
Abroad: No

Description of the Organization

The LAC became one of the first legal self-help centers in America when it opened it's doors in 2002. It's purpose is to help those in the justice gap; those who are not financially able to hire adequate legal help, but not so impoverished that they can qualify for free legal help. The LAC deals with legal issues pertaining to family law (divorce, custody, paternity), landlord/tenant, and small claims and garnishments. Patrons can come in and be guided through the legal system and given the adequate paperwork to do so.

Description of the Tasks/Projects Completed

While at the LAC, I assisted patrons with signing in and filling out a service agreement form stating they understood what we could and could not do for them. Once that was done, I'd ask, "how can I help you?", a powerful question that implies I am here to help you get through this, however I will not do all of the work for you. The patron will explain their issue and then I will explain what their options are. I can then set up the patron with the appropriate paperwork, help them fill it out and check it for completeness, set them up with a hearing before a judge (should the situation warrant it), and then instruct them on how to file the paperwork.

Skills/Knowledge Gained Through The Experience

Through this internship I gained immense knowledge of the law. The hands-on nature of this position has you working directly with the material and with the people and it's a effective way to learn. Through this job, you also learn to communicate and interact with almost every kind of person and you learn the virtues, patience and compassion.

Favorite Part of the Experience

I learned something new every day and everyday was just exciting. I loved that I could see the change I was bringing into people's lives and that I was giving them hope; it's a tremendous thing to see. The impact and difference you can make was so real and sometimes that raised the stakes, but for the most part made it a joy. I also love the people I worked with; I have so much respect for the senior volunteers and administration and loved talking with my fellow volunteers. There was a lot of laughter and banter.

How the Experience Influenced Future Career Goals

I struggled a lot with the question, "how do I know that going into the law is the right thing for me?" and I feared I'd make it to my senior year and realize all of a sudden that I didn't want to do it. This internship gave me such a close look at the legal field and put me in direct contact with the people who work in it. Through all this meaningful interaction and that fact that I loved it, this helped me realize that the law is what I'm passionate about, excited by, intrigued by, and challenged by. It's something I want to grow in and learn more about and I'm immensely grateful that LAC could give that for me.

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